Cleveland Rights Readers discuss Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City
In her forties, with two children, a spouse, a dog, a mortgage, and a full-time job as a tenured law professor at Georgetown University, Rosa Brooks decided to become a cop. A liberal academic and journalist with an enduring interest in law's troubled relationship with violence, Brooks wanted the kind of insider experience that would help her understand how police officers make sense of their world--and whether that world can be changed. In 2015, against the advice of everyone she knew, she applied to become a sworn, armed reserve police officer with the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department.
Then as now, police violence was constantly in the news. The Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, protests wracked America's cities, and each day brought more stories of cruel, corrupt cops, police violence, and the racial disparities that mar our criminal justice system. Lines were being drawn, and people were taking sides. But as Brooks made her way through the police academy and began work as a patrol officer in the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods of the nation's capital, she found a reality far more complex than the headlines suggested.
In Tangled Up in Blue, Brooks recounts her experiences inside the usually closed world of policing. From street shootings and domestic violence calls to the behind-the-scenes police work during Donald Trump's 2016 presidential inauguration, Brooks presents a revelatory account of what it's like inside the blue wall of silence. She issues an urgent call for new laws and institutions, and argues that in a nation increasingly divided by race, class, ethnicity, geography, and ideology, a truly transformative approach to policing requires us to move beyond sound bites, slogans, and stereotypes. An explosive and groundbreaking investigation, Tangled Up in Blue complicates matters rather than simplifies them, and gives pause both to those who think police can do no wrong--and those who think they can do no right.
"Brooks has an anthropologist's ear for the language of policing, jumping from the reports full of passive-voice bureaucratese to the darkly humorous, profanity-laden shoptalk. She zips from hilarious descriptions . . . to bone-dry observations. . . . [Brooks's] style recalls the work of immersion journalists like George Plimpton, Ted Conover and Barbara Ehrenreich--who happens to be Brooks's mother. Brooks makes this part of the story, nesting in a book on policing a beautifully written mini-memoir about growing up the daughter of a famous activist and writer, who disdains the police but also values a certain toughness." --New York Times Book Review
" Tangled Up in Blue is a wonderfully insightful book that provides a lens to critically analyze urban policing and a road map for how our most dispossessed citizens may better relate to those sworn to protect and serve." --The Washington Post
Rosa Brooks is a law professor at Georgetown University and founder of Georgetown's Innovative Policing Program. From 2016 to 2020, she served as a reserve police officer with the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department. She has worked previously at the Defense Department, the State Department, and for several international human rights organizations. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal, and she spent four years as a weekly opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times and another four as a columnist for Foreign Policy. Her most recent book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2016; it was also shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize and named one of the five best books of the year by the Council on Foreign Relations.
The book will be available at Mac's Backs or through our website at the 20% book club discount. Contact us for meeting details.